Feb 23

College Football in the Big City

Posted By:Brett Haynes - Greenville, SC  Tags:

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I guess with my being from the South, and being somewhat accustomed to college football being played in small towns and medium sized cities, I guess I have this impression in my mind that this is a sport whose true heart belongs in the un-metropolitanized. But I got myself to thinking about this, and college football is every bit as present in out nation's largest cities as it is in the small towns of the South. Let's take a look:

New York City (pop 8.3 million). The Big Apple is not home to a team in downtown Manhattan. However, just fifty miles away is Big East team, Rutgers. The Knights have a long and storied past in college football, and have recently, under Coach Greg Schiano, become pretty good once again.

Chicago (pop 2.9 million). Like New York, the Windy City does not pop right into your head when you think of college pigskin. But right here smack in the city of Chicago lies Northwestern University. This means six times a year, Big Ten teams travel to Chicago for a weekend of fun and college football (and probably a win over the Wildcats!)...But let us not also forget that Chicago is just an hour or more to South Bend, Indiana - home of the Fighting Irish. I had a buddy that went to Notre Dame, and he said train rides into town were a regular thing for Irish students.

Los Angeles (pop 3.8 million). Again, when you think of L.A., you probably think about Hollywood, Rodeo Drive, sunny beaches, movie stars, rappers, and Compton and Long Beach. But you also need to think about college football in the form of the two major Pac Ten programs that call Los Angeles home. UCLA and USC have been fighting over this city's best players for a hundred years, and it isn't going to stop anytime soon!

San Francisco/Oakland (pop 1.2 million combined). On up the coast in California, you get to the major metropolitan area of the Bay area. Here, the Cal Bears call Berkeley home (basically in San Francisco), while just twenty minutes away, in Palo Alto, the Stanford Cardinal have been playing football for quite some time. I never realized just how close these two places of intelect are to one another.

Seattle (pop 600,000). The Washington Huskies call Seattle, Washington home. They not only have some of the best looking unifoms in all of the game, but they also have a very cool city to live in during their college playing days. The Huskies have had their ups and downs on the gridiron during their days, and I really do not know tons about them, but are a program I have always kind of liked for some odd reason.

Atlanta (pop 595,000). This city may be the only one in this list where college football does not take a backseat to anything else that may be going on! Not only do the Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech play in downtown, but the city also hosts the SEC Championship game, the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, and now what has become an annual game between an ACC team and an SEC team in the season's first weekend. Also, the Bulldogs of UGA are in Athens, just an hour's drive away. Five more ACC or SEC teams are less than two hours from this city. The ATL is the main street of college football in the South.

Boston (pop 574,000). Now known as one of the top pro sports towns out there with the success of the Patriots, the Celtics, the Red Sox and the Bruins, "Beantown" isn't really thought of for its college football. But not only is Harvard here, and their storied past, but ACC annual contender Boston College also is home to Boston, playing their ball in Chestnut Hill.

Dallas/Fort Worth (pop 2.1 million combined) and Austin/Houston (2.2 million in Houston). TCU resides in what is fastly becoming one of the most metropolitanized cities in the nation. The Horned Frogs recent surge should help them start to scoop up some of the unbelievably good high school talent in Texas. But the Frogs aren't the only team in Texas to play in the big city. Houston is home to the Houston Cougars, who had a very strong season, and just 80 miles away in the capital city of Austin (pop 690,000), the Longhorns call Darell Royal Stadium their home.

Pittsburgh (pop 410,000). Home to the Pitt Panthers, this city of a half of a million people is better known (at least down South) for its pro sports teams in the Pirates, Steelers and Penguins. But Dave Wannstedt has put Pitt football back on the cities to-do list. Two hours away, in State College, Penn State ofers a totally different feel in a town of just (38,500).

Columbus (pop 713,000). I always forget what a huge damn city this is because I have never been there. But at almost a million folks in the metro area, it is safe to say this is a whopper! Maybe there is a reason after all that the Buckeyes play before 100,000 plus every single home game. Cincinnati is another Ohio team coming from a metro area.

Miami (413,000). This town has set up sort of a celebrity image for its hometown Hurricanes over the years. Miami has yachts, fancy cars, beautiful beaches, swanky high rise condos, and a Caribbean type feel. But the city is also not far from some of the top high school football in America, and those kids have been tempted by the bright lights and high profile of Miami for years. This is Hollywood on the East Coast, and the "U" calls it home.

So there are the main ones, proving to myself that I am quite wrong about where college football is played. Here are some other teams that play in towns that aren't only pretty big places, but also state capitals: Florida State (Tallahassee), Wisconsin (Madison), South Carolina (Columbia), LSU (Baton Rouge), Nebraska (Lincoln), Michigan State (Lansing), and Boise State (Boise).

Many, many other teams fall into twons where the cities are 100,000 to 400,000 such as Tennessee (Knoxville), Texas Tech (Lubbock), Florida (Gainesville) and Michigan (Ann Arbor).

If I left any teams out, I apologize. As it turns out, I guess I was totally wrong! The only true small town teams that come to mind now directly off of the top of my head now are Clemson (pop 11,800), Auburn (pop 49,900), Alabama (pop of Tuscaloosa 78,000), Georgia (pop of Athens 103,000), Penn State (pop of State College 38,500) and West Virginia (pop of Morgantown 28,650).

* stats are from Wikipedia, and reflect metro populations - not including surrounding areas...

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